Category Archives: Team Development

Customer Service – Are You All In On Employee Training?

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Imagine if you will a hospital that spent more time and money training their C-suite than their direct-care staff of doctors and nurses. Or a large airlines spending most of their training budget on the executive staff and very little on the pilots, flight crew, or mechanics.

The resulting scenraiors wold prove to be short-sighted and troublesome. And yet it seems that the average company spends more on training for upper level versus line-level or front-line employees.

A survey of average company training budgets will reveal that a typical company will spend from 2-5% of annual revenues on training.

The Association for Talent Development in their annual state of the industry report from last year revealed that the average company spent $1273 per employee in 2017.

Couple that with Training Mag’s study of “per-learner training” from the same period and you’ll see that most of the $1000-plus spending per-learner was done on the C-suite level, then less for mid-level management and the least individual employees. The exception seemed to be for “high potential” employees.

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If you take these statistics and see the ongoing (10 + years) trend in worsening customer service experiences, one can draw a conclusion that more training needs to be invested on the front line staff in order to reverse this trend. And while some of this is related to the rapid education of the customer and the tight labor market, there is still one thing any company can do to provide a better customer experience.

Spend more time training your front line staff than you do anyone else.

About 15 years ago a restaurant chain claimed to spend more money than the industry on training was found to have actually shortchanged their line staff and spent more resources on opening more and more units. This eventually led to their bankruptcy just a few years later.

A couple of independent and different healthcare organizations were both afflicted with the same fate in the last few years. Instead of managing resources to the employees in the way of training, they diverted those monies to the top of the organization. As a result, patient care and satisfaction tanked, employees left, and both are facing various regulatory issues as they struggle to be in compliance.

While training and development of all levels of staff are essential, the expenses of major conferences at higher levels can tend to be very expensive without much ROI and direct customer impact. But a more focused training on front-line staff will reap higher returns and boost your levels of customer satisfaction. It’s a model that Chick-Fil-A uses to their advantage in their huge growth over the least decade. Same for Bonobos, whose goal is to help their workers become better employees and equip them with skills needed to do their jobs. CyberCoders and Paychex also have made committed goals to go all in on training their employees and their cultures and recruiting efforts reflect this quite positively.

What is being advocated here is the mindset to pour better and more focused resources – proportionately – into those employees who face your customers and have the most touchpoints with them. In a shifting economy and sliding landscape of digital and analaog business, being able to spend your resources on front-line training is essential for a company to stand out. In order to combat evolving business models, tight staffing, and increasing customer expectations, you need to up your game to invest in more training for your employees who most come in contact with your customers.

Determine today to build a better company and go all in on employee training.

The best companies know that the reasons to spend more on training are worth every cent.

(per-learner image: brandonhallgroup; main image: pixabay)

Experts Don’t Need Letters After Their Name

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Over the weekend I came across a series of content by a leadership author who heavily discounted what they would proclaim as so-called leadership experts.

As I mulled over their claims, I realized how many people in higher levels of leadership discredit others because their credentials don’t seem to be to their standards.

Let’s calibrate our understanding of what experts are:

  • a person having a high level of knowledge or skill in a particular subject (Cambridge Dictionary)
  • having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

We should also review the definition of a leader:

  • a person who manages or controls other people, esp. because of his or her ability or position (Cambridge)
  • a person who leads (Merriam-Webster)

It is essential here to point out that in none of these definitions (or others) is there a criteria for PhD’s, MBA’s, being on a board of directors, authoring books, teaching at universities or needing any other qualifying experience or education.

Unfortunately people who look down on others in this fashion tend to do so from an aura of superiority, resting on their own laurels. Experientially these people tend to be the least teachable and most difficult to create an engaged team that will trust and rally around them. They place themselves in a position of higher criticism and use their sole judgement to assess who is worthy of credibility.

And what these folks do is exhibit the same poor leadership behaviors that they denounce in their content. They place roadblocks into building another person up or giving them a platform for voice and value in what they know.

Here are some real-life situations in which someone has discounted another’s opinion because it didn’t meet the person’s prejudices:

Leaders and experts don’t need to have letters behind their name or have high-level positions.

As I have mentioned before, teenagers and the person you meet in everyday life can be effective leaders. All someone needs to be an expert is experience and the application through study and practice of their daily sphere.

The greatest experts in the field of leadership will tell you lifting others up, giving them value and a voice, and offering them a platform to showcase their talents is what true leadership is about.

Being an expert and leader is more than just letters after a name. It’s about the application of real-life principles to teach, lead and positively influence your sphere.

(image: flickr)

 

 

Why Slow Learners May Be Ready For Rapid Growth

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In virtually every organization there are people who seem to never learn or grow. Oftentimes we classify them as disengaged, subversive, or troublemakers, and look to dismiss them.

I have observed repeatedly a fair number of people that have slow learning curves which takes them a while to learn the fundamentals of their job. Yet I have been amazed at how many have blossomed over a longer period of time than others into solid team members and even became strong leaders in their own right.

What was the cause for the transformation?

Many people grow in proportion like a bamboo tree.

When a bamboo tree is planted and watered it doesn’t sprout for the first year, or the second. Or the third. Or the fourth. It takes five full years for the typical bamboo plant to finally break ground.

Once it does, it is actually one of the fastest growing plants in the world, sometimes growing at a rate of 35 inches in a day.

What is the cause for this tremendous growth?

In the course of the four-year period of seeming nothingness, the tree is growing a complex underground network of roots. These roots are so vast and extensive, that if you were to uproot a grown tree you would find it difficult to do so because of the root system.

It’s roots store all that water and nutrients, and create a myriad of conduits to support the rapid growth of the tree when it’s time has come.

And when the tree has come to full maturity, it possesses a denser strength than brick or concrete and a higher tensile strength than steel.

Sit back and think of the people in your organization that don’t seem to be growing. Are they working hard? Listening? Are they staying loyal, staying put with your company?

These people might actually be growing under the surface in ways you may not notice. These could be future impact players who, with the right combination of water and nutrients – training, encouragement, and entrusted responsibility – could shoot up from their place and make their presence known.

Just because we don’t see anything happening on the outside – stellar performance, heads nodding in agreement, skills being mastered in our timeframe – does not mean your people are not learning and growing. They may very well be developing some strong roots underneath.

Every leader is responsible for giving their people the necessary ingredients for growth and development. If you withhold any ingredient, you stunt their growth. When you liberally apply training, vision, knowledge, trust, and other internal and external resources, you may see quick growth. But if you don’t see anything quickly, be patient and wait. They are growing, you just may not actually see it.

Invest your time into everybody. Don’t be prejudiced by the outward displays of growth and performance. You just might discover some people ripe for rapid growth.

People that will be strong as steel – or a bamboo tree – in their value and loyalty to your organization.

(image: pixabay)

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